Saint Lucia

Saint Lucia [loo-sha] has no army but maintains a coast guard and a paramilitary Special Services Unit within its police force. Castries, the capital city, is situated on the northwest coast and is known for its magnificent harbor. St. Lucia has an uncommon heritage of mixed cultural and historical influences, including Amerindian, European, and African.

St. Lucia was named by Christopher Columbus, who sighted the island on St Lucy’s day 1502. Saint Lucia, one of the islands comprising the Windward Islands, is washed by both the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. The country is located northeast of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, northwest of Barbados, and south of Martinique. It has a land area of 620 km2 and is divided into 11 parishes.

Saint Lucia is very mountainous, the highest point being Mount Gimie, at 950 m above sea level. The two Pitons peaks, located between Soufrière and Choiseul on the western side of the island, are the country's most famous landmark. The island boasts two Nobel laureates: Sir Arthur Lewis (Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, 1979) and Sir Derek Walcott (Nobel Prize in Literature, 1992).

Saint Lucia is a parliamentary democracy modeled on the Westminster system. Political power rests with the prime minister and the cabinet, who usually represent the majority party in parliament. Members of the bicameral parliament are elected for five–year terms.

The Royal St. Lucia Police Force has responsibility for law enforcement and maintenance of order within the country and reports to the Ministry of Home Affairs, Justice, and National Security. The Criminal Investigations Division investigates internal affairs and allegations against officers and refers cases to the DPP for review and, if authorities file charges, prosecution.

Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the police, but there were continued reports of impunity. Although there are government mechanisms to investigate and punish abuse and corruption, these mechanisms were not effective in practice. For instance, although authorities referred many cases for investigation and inquests, prosecutions rarely resulted, and cases remained nominally under investigation for years.

There was limited progress in the inquests and other investigations into the multiple killings during 2010 and 2011 allegedly by officers associated with an ad hoc task force as part of “Operation Restore Confidence”. The Caribbean Community’s Implementing Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS) concluded an investigation into the killings in 2014, but their report was not released publicly.

In 2015 former prime minister Kenny Anthony revealed that the report concluded that “the blacklist or death lists” referenced by media, human rights organizations, victims’ families, and citizens did exist; that “all the shootings reviewed were ‘fake encounters’ staged by the police to legitimize their actions”; that weapons were “planted on the scene of the shootings”; and that a number of the shootings were done by police officers but were listed in murder statistics as attributable to unknown assailants. He said the task force operated in “an environment of impunity and permissiveness designed to achieve the desired results.”

The then prime minister added, “The investigators also reported that in the course of the investigation, some senior officers did not cooperate with them.” In response to the IMPACS report, the government established a “use of force” policy for the Royal St. Lucia Police Force and conducted human rights training for them.

Saint Lucia’s economy depends primarily on revenue from tourism and banana production. Although banana revenues have helped fund the country’s development since the 1960s, the industry is now in a terminal decline, due to competition from lower-cost Latin American banana producers and reduced European Union trade preferences. The country is encouraging farmers to plant crops such as cocoa, mangos, and avocados to diversify its agricultural production and provide jobs for displaced banana workers.

Access to buildings, pedestrian paths and transportation is extremely difficult for persons with disabilities. Sidewalks (if they exist) are very uneven and will only occasionally have ramps at intersections. Pedestrian crossings are also very infrequent and can be poorly marked. Buses and taxis do not have special accommodations for disabled persons.

Most visits are trouble-free, but there have been incidents of crime including murder, armed robbery and sexual assault. Visitors are warned to be extremely careful when driving, riding in a vehicle, or crossing roads on foot. Major roads are in average to poor condition, and drivers may encounter wandering animals and slow moving heavy equipment. Drivers often stop in the middle of the roadway without warning, so drivers should always maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front and watch for signs of sudden braking. Automobiles may lack working safety and signaling devices. There is relatively little police enforcement of traffic regulations.

Medical facilities in Saint Lucia do not meet U.S. standards. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services.

It is an offence for anyone, including children, to dress in camouflage clothing.

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